The aroma of the exotic spices that waft from a plate of piping hot biryani has always conquered the hearts of the food lovers. The word 'biryani' originates from the Persian 'biriyan' which would roughly translate to 'fried rice.' Though there are many legends associated with the origin of biryani in India, most of them have been attributed either to the Mughal emperors of the royals of Lucknow.
Some historians state that the Mughals had made some changes in the Persian pulao to make biryani. However, a few ancient Tamil manuscripts hint that there existed a dish called the 'Oon soru', which was made by cooking rice, meat and spices together, from the 2nd century itself.
Another interesting story about the origin of biryani is associated with Mughal emperor Shah Jahan's wife Mumtaz Mahal. Once Mumtaz saw some soldiers who looked distressed during the time of war. She immediately asked to prepare a tasty dish which was rich in protein and calories for the soldiers to cheer them up. The royal cook had realized that it would be difficult for the withered soldiers to enjoy a sumptuous meal. So he decided to prepare a dish which would be easy for the tired soldiers to eat and at the same time was fulfilling and rich. He cooked biryani by cooking rice, spices, meat and vegetables together and garnished generously with cashews and dried fruits.
Besides India, biryani is enjoyed by the people in Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and many Arab countries as well, though there may be local variations in ingredients, taste and flavour.
Experts say that biryani smells and tastes incredible when it is cooked on a fire wood stove. Here are 10 amazing tips to make biryani extra special.
1. Usually meat like chicken, beef or mutton is pressure-cooked to save time. However, cooking meat in a vessel with the lid off will add more flavours to the biryani masala.
2. Do not soak the rice for more than 20 minutes.
3. Use home-made garam masala to prepare biryani.
4. Marinate chicken, beef or mutton for preparing biryani and leave it overnight. This enhances the taste and flavour of the dish.
5. Cook the biryani rice in a big vessel. This prevents from forming lumps and ensures long and perfectly cooked rice.
6. Cook rice in boiling water which is infused with cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, nutmeg, fennel seeds and a squeeze of lemon. This adds fragrance to the biryani rice.
7. When the masala is prepared without frying the chicken, cook it without adding water. The water that comes off the chicken will be enough for the masala.
8. While cooking dum biryani, arrange the meat and rice in layers. Finally top it off with fried onion and a pinch of garam masala.
9. Add chopped fresh pineapple in the biryani instead of pineapple essence.
10. Avoid tomato while preparing the masala for beef biryani.